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Proposed bill would require music therapists in Indiana to be certified

Senate Bill 338 would help identify licensed music therapists. Currently, practicing music therapists in the state do not need to be licensed
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Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 30, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — Music is a big part of cultures across the globe and can even be used as a form of therapy, but music therapists have no state certification in Indiana.

A bill at the statehouse would provide more access to music therapy and require music therapists to be certified.

Senate Bill 338 would not only help identify licensed music therapists, but it would also protect those seeking therapy.

Music therapy is something that is often used for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Ava Driskell has been taking part in music therapy for 15 years. It's something she says has changed her life.

"I'm a really good singer. I learned to sing before I could talk, " Driskell said.

Driskell was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she was young.

"When she was little, they worked on really simple things like just following directions and staying on task,” Mary Driskell, Ava’s mom, said. “Now they've expanded to things like coping skills, learning emotions and how to work through them and learning how to be an advocate."

Driskell takes music therapy at Opportunities for Positive Growth with a board-certified music therapist. There are about 400 in the state.

"Since I'm board certified I get the education of understanding the pros and cons of music and how to use them ethically,” Elyssa DiRaddo said.

However, in Indiana there is no requirement for a license, which can create issues for people seeking a certified music therapist.

"Currently there is little recourse for Hoosiers. If they pay for music therapy, they may not be getting music therapy from a qualified professional,” Lindsey Wright, the Executive Director of Therapies and Advancement at Opportunities for Positive Growth, said.

SB 338 hopes to change that.

“A business would have to pay Medicaid back for the funds that they had taken and said they provided music therapy with,” Wright said. “That would be considered fraud.”

According to Opportunities for Positive Growth, there are thousands of people on a waitlist to receive music therapy across the state. If the legislation passes, the waitlist would be reduced.

“The licensure would help increase access and draw music therapists to Indiana to provide these services that are really needed,” Wright said.

Music therapy is also practiced in nursing homes, hospice care and for patients with dementia.

Music therapists have been trying to get licensure requirements since 2008.

SB 338 has passed out of the Senate and is currently waiting on a committee hearing in the house.

This is the closest the organization has ever gotten to getting music therapy licensure requirements to become law.